Upstairs Bathroom Makeover: Before & After

As you may recall, one of the goals I recently set for myself was to finally get around to painting the upstairs bathroom now that the wallpaper has been down for a few months. The pink butterfly wallpaper was painfully thick (not to mention hideous) and the hardest to remove so far. I spent many sweat-induced summer afternoons with a wallpaper steamer, cursing at the butterflies for being so impossible. Thankfully, there are no signs of butterflies in our upstairs bathroom anymore.

Here’s a look at a before and after of the progress made so far in the bathroom as of today. Eventually we’d like to install black and white honeycomb tiling, but for now we are starting off with budget-friendly baby steps. I’m excited to be able to finally hang our bathroom hardware so our toilet paper will have a home (I realize this is very geeky). This is the bathroom we use every day because the shower is much preferred, so it’ll be nice to see something other than primed walls.

This is a before and after of the bathroom when we first moved in and a shot of it from today. We’ll need to get a new toilet seat and a curtain to snazz it up a bit, but for now, I’m just happy to have fresh paint on the walls.

I definitely love the chinchilla gray by Martha Stewart—I’ve been struggling to find a gray I’m 100% happy with (since the other grays we’ve used so far have turned out more blue and mauve), so I’m really happy with the “true”-ness of it. Just as a side note, these photos were taken at sunset, so the gray is much brighter and lighter during the day.

Has anyone else been tackling home renovations projects now that the weather outside is getting frightful (aka cold enough to make me mumble obscenities like a crazy person whenever I have to walk the dogs)? Also, has anyone installed honeycomb tiling before? Should we leave it to the professionals, or is it something we can DIY on our own?

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Autumn Decor: Yes, Please.

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October is just around the corner, which means mustache madness, candy corn and impending holiday music 24/7. I’m especially excited this year because Pete and I are hosting our very first Thanksgiving together, which means this will be the first time when the majority of guests will have no desire to watch football. Ever since Hurricane Irene rained on our parade, we had to cancel our BBQ, so my family will be making the trek from NYC and Delaware to indulge in turkey goodness. Luckily for me, Pete has experience cooking a turkey, but the most I’ve ever helped with Thanksgiving meals in the past has been microwaving mashed potatoes. So, needless to say, I am ready to solicit some advice from pumpkin pie-baking veterans.

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The idea of mini white pumpkins scattered on a mantle makes me anxious to go pumpkin picking—I always like cutting out the centers to make them votive candleholders to bring a warm glow to the room.

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Anywho, I’ve been browsing Foodgawker and Pinterest to collect autumn decor and festive recipe inspiration, but I was wondering what some of your favorites are?

One Man’s Trash…

About once a month, I devote a lazy afternoon to visiting my favorite thrift stores in the area in an attempt to find items for our home. Sometimes I find things that just need a good cleaning and the price tag scraped off, but I usually have to revamp the thrifted items I purchase to make them a bit more “us.”

Usually my first stop is at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop, where my brain always has a lot of trouble keeping up with my eyes. Whenever I go thrift shopping, I usually skip the clothing and go straight to the furniture or housewares. Luckily for me, this place is made up entirely of those two things. This store is perfect for roaming and incredibly spacious, so you never feel like you’re in anyone’s personal bubble. Plus, all of the proceeds go to a great cause, so I feel a lot less guilty than I would at the mall.

I thought the rustic chair on the left was really cute and for $5 it seemed like a steal…but once I tried to sit on it I was a little nervous by how wibble-wobbly it was. I set out trying to find a rocking chair to makeover for our sunroom, so when I saw this cross-stitched number, I kind of swooned a little…but not $60 worth of swooning.

These chairs have been here for the past few times I’ve visited, and at $35 a piece they are kind of irresistible. I know, I have bad taste, but at least I know it…

This dresser is absolutely lovely and definitely something I could see being sold for thousands of dollars at Anthropologie, but here it’s under $50. Most of the ginormous furniture pieces at ReStore are in the $50-80 range, which is kind of a steal.

Rod Stewart agrees.

I thought this watermelon painted picnic basket was kind of cute in a cheesy way and would be fun to use as a prop for engagement shoots. The piece on the right is drool-worthy, but I didn’t want to spend over $40 total and I had three more stores to visit, so I kept on trucking.

These floral cushions are fabulously tacky…if they matched our sunroom I would’ve snagged a few for our patio set.

My next stop was Impact, where there is always a 25% sale, so I usually visit the website beforehand to find out which savings are going on that week.

These bad boys were picked up by a hipster-looking gal only seconds after I took this photo.

I was looking for a cupcake stand and wished this had been able to do the trick, but luckily I was distracted by the wooden bunny art that vaguely resembled my illustrations.

From statement furniture pieces to sad owl drawings, Impact never ceases to amaze me at every turn of the corner.

I’m drawn to tacky bunny/watermelon-related knick knacks like a moth to a flame.

I thought this was pretty and reminded me of intricate Thai furniture I’ve seen sold at Terrain.

The furniture selection is pretty big at Impact, but I mostly go there to browse the housewares and linens. I love me some vintage calendar tea towels with kitties on them.

As soon as my friends start popping out babies, I am going to make impulse buys like the nursery scale above. I seriously have discussions in my head about whose imaginary babies these things would be perfect for, and then talk myself out of buying anything (thank goodness).

Next up was the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop, which is housed in a beautiful red barn nearby the Bryn Athyn College campus. This has become my favorite stop of them all, and today I finally made my first purchase there. I love how the place is set up, with rare collectables hanging from the ceiling on the top floor. This is where I find the most unique items because it seems to be sort of hidden away and not as popular with the younger crowd.

Who wouldn’t want a possessed teddy bear on a rocking chair or a figurine of a pig screaming his last words? Re-mark-able. The woman next to me pointed to the pig ceramic and said, “Oh honey, that is so photo-worthy,” and I agreed with a quick click of the camera.

I think silhouette art can be really lovely, but screaming birds, not so much…

This is the staircase which leads to the upstairs, full of furniture and clothing treasures as far as the eye can see. Out of all of the stores, the prices here always seem incredibly fair and affordable and I’m never left wondering if the employees messed up and meant to move a decimal point over one.

I’ve never purchased anything at Holy Redeemer Thrift Store, but it’s on my way home, so I usually stop there. Even though I exit empty-handed, I always leave with a smile on my face because the people there are out. STAN. ding. Today an elderly woman was talking to the dolls for sale in the knick knack section and pinching their porcelain cheeks for what seemed like ten minutes. (I lingered pretending to be interested in a vast collection of Christmas decorations.) I can’t wait to be so old that I don’t care when strangers are staring at me having conversations with inanimate objects. I mean, I already do that now, but I can’t wait for the not caring part to hit me more.

This sassy dog cup is kind of necessary. Pete: If you’re reading, Christmas gift, GO! I’m always impressed by the fabric selection at this location, as well as the abundance of doll heads available for the pickin’.

For you engaged gals out there, thrift stores are a great place for finding Mason jars, which are incredibly pretty as centerpieces or hanging lanterns. I am not ashamed to admit, I was half tempted to buy this clumsy, cross-stitched rabbit situation.

Wondering what purchases I did make (mom, this question is directed at you)? I’m going to share them with you guys tomorrow for a show and tell. This is where you pretend to be left in suspense and comment with guesses as to what you think I may or may not have spent $37.50 on.

Before & After: A $10 Seashell Cross Stitched Table

You might remember me talking about this cross-stitched table I bought at ReStore a couple of weeks ago for $10. The seashell look isn’t for me, so I planned on painting it white to match the table in our sunroom and replacing the stitched piece. At first I thought an old page from my grandfather’s Animal Encyclopedia might look cool, but the pages ended up being too small to fit inside the framed area. Instead, I decided to rip out a page from my American Illustration book, where a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jason Holley, jumped out at me. I’ve always loved this illustration and thought it would mesh well with the look of the sunroom.

Here’s a before and after shot of the new side table, which goes well with the bunny pillow less than a foot away. Sorry Pete, but I love me some bunnies.

Speaking of bunnies, ours definitely dig the table revamp, I made sure to get their final approval.

Our chinchilla Maude didn’t really care for the bunny side table revamp (she’s more of a seashell girl), even after I gave her a few scritches to try to win her over.

Overall, this project was incredibly fast to tackle (thank god for spray paint), affordable and it gives our sunroom a bit more personality.

What are some simple DIY projects you’ve attempted lately?

Currently Coveting: Emily Henderson’s Eclectic Style

I have developed a bit of a blog crush on Emily Henderson, who is from last season of HGTV’s Design Star. I had never watched Design Star up until this week, when I realized last season was available to watch on Hulu. Insert my new obsession. I’ll admit I kind of half-watched it while working, but I paid enough attention to pick up on some great ideas. It’s pretty much like Project Runway but with stylists and designers for the home, and it’s perfect for learning new DIY tips to bring to your own makeover projects.

I am crushing on this card catalogue Emily Henderson found at a flea market and made her own by adding pin-legs and topping with a mirror. Totally simple and definitely do-able, so I’ll continue to scope Craigslist every day for a (reasonably priced) card catalog. Once the weather becomes a little less sweltering, I will bring my search to flea markets and cross my fingers I find something, because I think the older sense of character would go well in our 1940s home. I really love mixing vintage finds with bright, modern pieces…and tiny drawers basically make me go bananas. Where do you find your design inspiration for your home?

{Photos courtesy of Style by Emily Henderson}

Have a fun weekend everyone, hopefully I’ll have more before and after house photos to share once Monday rolls around!

Before & After: Revamping the Kitchen Floor

This weekend was spent making over our kitchen floor, which as you can see, started off pretty grim when we moved in a little over a month ago. The old floor tile felt dirty on our feet and no matter how many times we mopped it, it still remained a lovely shade of stained, yellow-ish blue. Not cute. We decided to shop around for affordable peel and stick, vinyl tiles in black and white. We were surprised when we found out both Home Depot and Lowe’s did not sell simple black and white, vinyl stick-on tiles. I called several tile distributors in the area and got a lot of “Ha, are you serious? I haven’t seen a checkerboard floor since the 80’s” responses. Uhh, obviously these people don’t browse Pinterest on a regular basis.

I ended up finding a wholesale tile distributor in New Jersey called Mazer Wholesale, where they sell packs of 20 white or black tiles for $7/piece with a 5-year warranty. Yes, please! We were able to give our floors a new look for under $100 in just one weekend, so I think it was definitely worth it. The tiles arrived just two days after my order was placed, so I couldn’t have been more happy with the shopping experience. Plus, the owner even posted a black & white checkerboard tutorial video on YouTube explaining how to install the tiles easily. I have a feeling we’ll be ordering more tiles from them to give our bathrooms a quick floor fix as well.

Anyway, back to the old floors! This is what our kitchen looked like when we had our initial walk through of the home.

Here’s how the floors look now, with our bright blue walls and IKEA storage area. I really like peeking out to our other rooms and seeing the transition of colors. I definitely think the downstairs feels a lot more like “us” now. I am excited to do the same to our upstairs, which for the most part, hasn’t been touched since we moved in (eep!).

The first thing we did was decide how we wanted to install the tiles on our floor. We were trying to figure out if we wanted to lay them diagonally or straight. We ended up choosing the diagonal route (left), which took a lot longer than it would have if we were working with straight lines, but I think it makes the room look wider. We began laying the tiles from the front, righthand corner and placed all of the whole tiles.

Once we finished sticking all of the whole pieces to the floor, we had to start cutting out patterns to place the pieces which were touching the walls. It was incredibly difficult to cut pieces around vents, quarter round and door frames, but with some patience were were able to knock it out by Sunday afternoon. We both definitely had our fair share of dramatically flopping on the floor out of pure exhaustion and having sticky finger syndrome for 48 hours, but it wasn’t anything Goo Gone couldn’t help fix.

Our vents were the most frightening shade of brown I had ever seen (sorry for the lack of a “before” photo), so I sprayed them with black RustOleum. It’s surprising how much of a difference the black vents make in the room—everything looks a lot more clean and polished now.

Here’s a view from our dining room, where you can see one example of the flashing (is that what it’s called?) in the doorway, which Pete replaced throughout the kitchen and mudroom.

I really like the retro vibe of the kitchen and although it still needs some TLC (painting the door white, touching up the white in the mudroom, hanging airy curtains), I think it suits our personalities perfectly. Speaking of personalities, I am so happy that I am spending my life with this boyfriend of mine. We went through crazy mood swings together during these two days, which consisted of excited-exhausted-delirious-hot-and-bothered-starving-hopeful-proud-and-smelly. There’s nothing I enjoy more than singing songs together and inserting the words “Betty White” or “schloops.” We are both absolutely nutty and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share our quirkiness together.

That being said, I felt awful that Pete has to tolerate my obsessive, perfectionist tendencies. I’m a crazy person and insisted that we have the tiles line up perfectly where the kitchen meets the mudroom. Luckily for the ginger, I assigned myself to a large majority of the painfully difficult tiles, which resulted in a lot of grunting, throwing parchment paper pattern balls and occasional swearing on my part. The worst was trying to place tiles underneath the incredibly heavy oven, which cannot be moved out of the way due to its awkward placement. Runner up for the worst was trying to get tiles behind the fridge without cracking the tiles we had already placed in front of it.

Here’s a view of our mudroom, which now has brand spanking new cove moulding at the bottom. This is one of the many rooms on our neverending to-do list which needs major lovin’. The creepy door leading to nowhere looks like someone from a horror movie clawed at the trim for days. I definitely need to sand the window and door frames and give everything a nice coat of white paint, not to mention toss the previous owner’s little tree car freshener. Baby steps.

All in all, I think this is one of those budget-friendly projects which can really makeover the entire look of a room in just a day or two. Plus, we’ve come pretty darn close to resembling the inspiration photo I “pinned” on Pinterest (one of my new favorite websites!) a while back:

Has anyone else ever tackled a quick, affordable, DIY floor makeover? If so, how did it go (comment with photos if you have them!)?

Before & After: Cabinet


As soon as I heard my friends Laura and Michael would be having a housewarming party for their new abode, I knew I wanted to make them something. So, last weekend Pete and I spent our Sunday browsing flea markets and thrift stores in search of something that I could revamp for their gift. The antique market (Golden Nugget in Lambertville, NJ) was filled with treasures, but mostly everything was ridiculously overpriced. There were only a few tables with items that were reasonable—but for the most part, vendors were being greedy with their prices. Although, I am not surprised that Bucks County locals have enough spare money to blow $80 on a globe that you could find at a Good Will for $5. When passing one of the tables, a book with bird illustrations caught my eye. It was falling apart and about 20 pages, but I thought it might be nice to frame some of the images from the book for our new home. When I asked how much it cost, the vendor told me it was $200 and that he found it in the trash (which is where he found all of his other items for sale, which he decided were worth hundreds of dollars).

We headed to Triumph Brewing Company for lunch and lucked out since they were in the middle of restaurant week, so I was able to thoroughly stuff my face on the cheap!

Our next stop was Good Will, which is where I found this collection cabinet and knew immediately it was what I was looking for. Pete also snagged a broken Crosley record player, which he fixed up, so we’ve been playing our vinyl all weekend and “dancing” sporadically in our living room. Pete’s Johnny Cash jig is definitely one of my new favorite things.

Here are the before and after shots of the cabinet. I actually started painting the cabinet and almost got the first coat of green on the front when I realized I hadn’t taken a “before” shot yet. I wiped off the paint as fast as I could so I could snag a photo, design*sponge-style since I adore their before and after posts.

I tried to make the cabinet as bright as humanly possible, without going too overboard. The couple’s new home has really gorgeous vibrant walls with beautiful vintage details, so I’m hoping it meshes well with their aesthetic.

I really love revamping old furniture and definitely plan to frequent thrift stores and flea markets a lot more now that we’ll have a house to fill. What types of before and after projects have you tackled and are you as bad as I am about taking “before” shots?